UNIONDALE, New York — The Nassau Coliseum was already packed by the time opening act [artist id=”3055069″]Nicki Minaj[/artist] took the stage Tuesday night. The screams that filled the stadium as “Roman’s Revenge” boomed on the speakers made it seem like [artist id=”501686″]Britney Spears'[/artist] Femme Fatale Tour is actually a co-headlining event.
And then came a bigger surprise. Only a few songs in, an unusual tension filled the arena as Nicki kept looking back over her shoulder during a transition between songs. Then the first few beats of “Monster” came on and out ran Kanye West [artist id=”1230523″]Kanye West[/artist], who was taking time out of his busy promo schedule leading up to the release of his and Jay-Z’s Watch the Throne. After the song, Kanye beamed his toothiest white smile, and the crowd could not have been any more psyched. The shrieking continued as Nicki finished off her set with hits including “Check It Out” and “Super Bass.”
Roughly 30 minutes later, the Britney-themed countdown clock in the arena read 00:00 and the cheering threatened to blow the already-shaky roof straight off the rafters. After a short intro video, showing one of the world’s biggest pop stars being hunted and arrested by a SWAT team, Britney burst onto the stage and went straight into “Hold It Against Me,” as teens, young professionals, gay men and a healthy dose of middle-aged fans alike collectively pushed forward.
Spears performed songs off her latest album, Femme Fatale, intermixed with classics all the way back to “… Baby One More Time,” though many were shortened versions of the originals. Some of the highlights included “Slave 4 U,” in which she revisited some of the same choreography from her classic music video and 2001 VMA performance; a Rihanna-less “S&M” that involved her riding shirtless male dancers down a catwalk; and “Lace and Leather,” in which she called her Long Island-born boyfriend, Jason Trawick, out of the audience, handcuffed him to a stripper pole and gave him a PG-rated lap dance.
While critics have noted that Britney doesn’t dance as much as she did in her early days, there was a great deal of choreography in the live show, and she was always moving in some capacity — though much of it involved wrist snapping, finger pointing, prop-riding, hair-whipping and strutting. She smiled anytime she wasn’t giving her infamous smoldering glare, and tore up a handful of song breakdowns (for songs like “Toxic” and “Big Fat Bass”) with old-school Britney power thrusts.
The arena crowd stayed on their feet the entire time, and they received one last sort-of surprise (since it hasn’t happened at every single show on the tour): Nicki Minaj joined Britney onstage for the encore performance of “Till the World Ends.”